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Thursday, November 5, 2015

You will be fine.....NOT

During a recent conversation with a friend, it was suggested perhaps I should start a second blog purely for the purpose of pointing out the Do's and Don'ts  of interacting with people who are living with cancer.   I have entertained many of my friends with stories of situations that have arisen, some funny, some serious, and some just downright nasty.    So today I will begin my educational debut of

Diplomacy for dealing with, talking to, or meeting a person with cancer.   I will try to give you one valuable tip a day for the next 365 days.

Day 1 -   Do not under any circumstances tell someone that has just been diagnosed with cancer that
everything will be alright.   Who the hell are you...God.  Do you have some light into the future that only you can see that tells you that this terrible diagnoses is just a 'blip' in their life and that 'all will be well'?

I was waiting to have surgery at one point and decided to go home and visit family beforehand.   It was about 10 days before my surgery so everyone was very happy to see me and we ate, drank, and just enjoyed ourselves.   We really didn't even talk about my illness much which was perfectly fine with me.   It was like a vacation from illness before the big day.    Then someone had the bright idea that I should go to their Psyche to have my fortune told.     A excuse you really think this time is right for this.    I mean if I am going to die I don't want to know know!  

Well, the response to my hesitation was "oh don't worry everything will be alright, you aren't going to die".....think about that statement.   Here is a person who has been diagnosed with advanced cancer and will be having extensive surgery in a few days and you are telling me "you know I will be fine".

That is so wrong on a number of levels.   First, you don't know that!!!!!   Second, if you did you would probably be a lot more famous and richer than you are.    You would probably have a huge following.  Thirdly, you have just totally dismissed my biggest fear as being silly.    I may not die,   and I certainly hope I won't, but it is also very much within the range of possibilities.   So let me at least be able to feel a little upset, sad, or fearful of this possible outcome.   By telling me that I will be alright removes all those possible feelings because it means that I must be overreacting or being unreasonable.

Many things we say are meant to be helpful.   Telling a cancer patient (especially one who has just been diagnosed ) that all will be ok.....dismisses the fear and anxiety that they feel and as a human being should feel in those circumstances.   My advice is that instead of saying everything will be alright it might mean more to just :

hug them and tell them that you will be there for them no matter what happens......those words are gold to someone who is frightened....our biggest fear is being ALONE.

Please also read my other blog:

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